owners-manuals_0If you are a true minimalist, toss all your owner’s manuals. You can get that information online.  End of post.

The rest of us are not so comfortable with that approach, but would still like a simple solution for organizing owner’s manuals.

In my experience as a professional organizer, I tend to see one extreme or another.  Either there is no system and owner’s manuals show up in any room in the house OR there is an overly organized system.

I guess I don’t have to explain what’s wrong with the first extreme, but what about the second? Is it really possible to be overly organized? What’s the harm?

One of the benefits of being organized, is the ability to prioritize and make decisions more quickly.  This benefit needs to start in the process of GETTING organized. The less time and energy you spend organizing less important things, the more time and energy you will have for organizing more important things.

Owners manuals are one of those less important things.  They basically fall under the category I call Sleeping Files, files you are keeping JUST IN CASE.  However, I don’t recommend actually putting them in files for 3 reasons:

  1. The files take too much time to create
  2. The contents tend to bulk up too much, especially if you want to keep product parts with the owners manuals.
  3. File space is too valuable for owners manuals.

Whether you create files or store manuals in binders, it takes a lot of time and effort for an item whose usability is slim to none.  Also, these more complicated systems tend to need constant updating, which tends to go undone because the systems are too complicated.

So what do I do? I chuck ‘em in a drawer!  Oh, I have simple subdivisions like- appliances, computer, entertainment, and phone, but I just use labeled Ziploc bags to keep them apart.  That’s it.  On the rare occasion I need some information on my printer, it’s no great hardship to go through my “computer” bag and find the printer manual.

By the way, I throw the products’ warranties and receipts in the same bags.  As long as they’re all in the same place, they’re always easy to find.

This system is easy to use, easy to maintain, and doesn’t distract me from more important priorities.  If you can’t say that about your organizing systems, it might be time to rethink them.